Lilly Collection Spotlight: Dear Duke

The Art of Writing / The Writer’s Art

Jane Austen book, Epicurus book, Letter from Birmingham Jail book covers
Collection Spotlight on Letters

Dear Duke,

When was the last time you wrote a letter or received a card in a real mailbox?
Before the Digital Age – and there was such a time – people wrote letters on paper and sent cards to each other. The latest Lilly Collection Spotlight shines on the disappearing art of letter writing, featuring a selection of books and films in which letters or ongoing correspondence play an integral role. Authors include literary and political figures such as Epicurus, Jane Austen, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Samuel Beckett.

3 DVD covers
Films about letter writing

The role letter writing plays in film, whether just as a plot device or as narration and explication helped us choose a few films from our collections. Relationships built through intimate correspondence, letters never received, mis-delivered or rediscovered frame many film narratives.  Steal a Pencil for Me, Mary and Max, Letters to Juliet and P.S. I Love You are among the films featured.

Accompanying our Collection Spotlight are two exhibit cases featuring artists’ correspondence. Displayed in the lobby case are volumes of Vincent van Gogh’s letters. He was a prolific letter writer whose writings provide insight into his work, his art, and his struggles.  Van Gogh often adorned his letters with drawings and sketches. The exhibit case in the foyer highlights  letters written by other artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Albert Eisenstadt, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.

Notecard with written advice to Duke student
Duke Class of 2019 Notes to Duke 2022

p.s. 

In addition to the Collection Spotlight, browse the nearby interactive exhibit of handwritten notes from Duke Seniors, Class of 2019, to the First-Year members of Duke’s Class of 2022.

Feel free to pull out the notes from the board and read them. There is a bit of advice, personal observations, and even a little bit of wisdom on display!

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